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Which Older Adults Have Access to America’s Most Livable Neighborhoods? An Analysis of AARP’s Livability Index

spinner image Report Cover for Livability Index 2020 Analysis

AARP’s Livability Index: Great Neighborhoods for All Ages is an online, interactive resource that evaluates livability for neighborhoods across the United States. It details the key features, services and amenities, (housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity), that make communities livable and support residents as they age.  And the Livability Index helps to identify gaps between what communities have and what their residents need to thrive.

More Older Adults Need Access to Livable Neighborhoods

The most livable places have features and amenities such as places to exercise and socialize, access to job opportunities, a variety of housing options, access to health services and affordable and convenient transportation options, among others. Livable communities can provide opportunities for people to remain active and engaged in the community at every life stage.

However, who has access to the most livable communities—the places that score high on the Livability Index? This report, Which Older Adults Have Access to America’s Most Livable Neighborhoods? An Analysis of AARP’s Livability Index, combines what the Livability Index tells us about neighborhoods with what the American Community Survey tells us about who lives there. The central questions of the report are: What are the key characteristics of communities that score high on the Livability Index? To what degree do older adults, including those who rent or own or are from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, among other demographic characteristics, have access to the most livable places across the country?  When older adults move, do they tend to move to places with greater livability?


All communities, including the Livability Index’s high scoring places, have challenges with meeting the needs of older adults. Local officials and other stakeholders are searching for effective solutions to address them and continue on the path of becoming more livable. The report includes recommendations for the seven categories included in the Index: housing, transportation, neighborhood, environment, health, engagement and opportunity. The recommendations include but are not limited to expanding housing options for people at all income and ability levels, creating a safer travel environment that reduces risks to pedestrians, and ensuring that all older adults, including people of color and those with disabilities, have access to community amenities and services where they live. 

Suggested citation

Molinsky, Jennifer, Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, Rodney Harrell, and Shannon Guzman. Which Older Adults Have Access to America’s Most Livable Neighborhoods? An Analysis of AARP’s Livability Index. Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute and the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. October 2020.